kid and budget friendly SF
May 26, 2007 10:27 AM   Subscribe

Entertaining an eight-year old on a budget in San Francisco.

My little brother (8.5) is coming to visit me next week, and we will have Wednesday through Friday to hang out in San Francisco. I've looked through the other threads, so I have a few good ideas already, but I'm specificially looking for things we can do for free or really cheap and will be fun for both of us.

No car, so we have to be able to use Bart or Muni, preferably Muni. I've already thought of going to 826 Valencia, walking partway across the Golden Gate Bridge, walking around Chinatown/Fisherman's Wharf, taking the cable cars, and maybe trying to find the parrots on Telegraph Hill. Am I missing anything? Would it be worth it to take a ferry to Sausalito?

My brother loves sports, Japanese food, animals, and most normal things that eight-year olds enjoy. I'm hoping to find things that will be unique to San Francisco, things he wouldn't be able to do in other cities.
posted by ohio to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This goes without saying but I am sure that Alcatraz would be a hit with your brother.. and if there are any military ships that are doing tours.. check that out too.
posted by cowmix at 10:34 AM on May 26, 2007

I'd suggest checking out first. Plus, it couldn't hurt to check,, the local blogs like, and the weeklies like the Gaurdian, The Onion, etc.
posted by lannanh at 10:39 AM on May 26, 2007

The Exploratorium!
posted by ericb at 10:39 AM on May 26, 2007

Definitely cooler to do the Alcatraz night tour at night. Better ambience by far, the kid'll LURVE it. Reserve tickets online in advance. has a decent little write up on stuff to do. So does the Public Library. And here's a searchable event listing online. Have fun!
posted by miss lynnster at 10:42 AM on May 26, 2007

SFMoMA, or at least the gift shop. Third+ the Exploratorium. Rent bikes and do the whole GG Bridge and ride a little around the other side, though I think he'd be bored with most of Marin/Sausalito past maybe Muir Woods.
posted by kcm at 10:50 AM on May 26, 2007

The Musee Mechanique is, in my opinion, the most magical place in San Francisco.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:09 AM on May 26, 2007

Best answer: My two nephews have been visiting me in SF since they were 6.

Alcatraz is fascinating and memorable, but it's not cheap. If you go, you MUST get the tape-recorded tour (it's very good, and the trip's not worth much without it). Also, make reservations ahead of time because it sells out.

On a clear day, go out to hilltops. My guys like to go to three in one day. Twin Peaks is fine, but their favorite is Tank Hill. They also love visiting the city's steepest streets.

There are historic ships you can walk around on at Hyde Pier.

If he's not from California and like hamburgers: In N Out Burger.

Make sure he sees the ocean and not just the bay.

Musee Mechanique! Bring a lot of quarters.
posted by wryly at 11:33 AM on May 26, 2007

take a sea cruise complements of the ferry --

sea lions pier 39
posted by peace_love_hope at 12:58 PM on May 26, 2007

I always got a kick out of the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum by fisherman's wharf...and that was as an undergrad!
posted by lil' ears at 1:18 PM on May 26, 2007

Just as a general kid tip, be sure to stack your deck in the right order. Whatever your "coolest" thing is, do it last to avoid other stuff not being "as fun as" the other stuff. Also, if activity A fails, you still have really cool "Activity D" to look forward to.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:43 PM on May 26, 2007

It's not at all free but the tactile dome at the Exploratorium will totally rock your bro. You'd probably need to book ahead, but if you possibly can, take him there.
posted by anadem at 3:18 PM on May 26, 2007

For a sports fan, why not go see the Giants or the A's? Bleacher seats are pretty cheap, and for the Giants, you can stand in the free section and watch through the fence. There's lots to do at the ball park beyond watching the game, like the slides in the coke bottle.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:27 PM on May 26, 2007

I would also recommend the concrete slides at Seward st park. You could take the Muni T to the Castro station, though it might be a bit of a walk from there.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:37 PM on May 26, 2007

After you go to the Exploratorium and the Conservatory for the carnivorous plants - you have to go to those - you will be in Golden Gate Park.

There's a surprising amount of good, fun, cheap or free stuff in GG Park. Bison and the duck pond are things that the kids love very much. There are vendors selling sausages; you can rent a 4 person pedal-cab and drive around; there is a wonderful carousel.

Sunscreen and warm clothes are important in GG Park this time of year, because the fog often makes it cool and you don't realize how much UV you're getting.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:47 PM on May 27, 2007

Ditto on The Exploratorium. It's so fun, even for adults! Also the California Academy of Sciences is such a great aquarium.
posted by radioamy at 6:02 PM on May 27, 2007

The Sutro Baths are pretty cool; there's seals and other wildlife in the area. The park rangers run tours, but that might get tedious for an 8-year old.

The Camera Obscura is nearby too.
posted by lemonwheel at 8:16 PM on May 27, 2007

The Randall Museum near Corona Heights is fun, and free!
posted by obloquy at 9:57 PM on May 27, 2007

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